Orokonui Ecosanctuary

(Part of the Pigalina does new things series)

Mr Pigalina’s Aunt, Uncle, Cousin and our niece went to the Orokonui Ecosanctuary and gave mixed reports. “It was beautiful” (the elder’s view), “It was boring you couldn’t even see anything” (teenager’s view). It turns out they never left the visitor’s centre/cafe so no wonder they didn’t see anything! Had they left and gone for a walk around the massive sanctuary they would have seen some fantastic native birds up close. As you enter through the security gate you must check your bags for stowaway mice, once inside the predator proof fence there are a number of trails you can walk. There is a new tuatara house near the entrance and we were lucky enough to spot this tiny fellow, one of two.
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In the bank at the side of the path to the tuatara house were lots of little holes which were made by Kiwi foraging for worms. We learnt this fact while eavesdropping on a guided tour (“They’re trying to learn for free”). Scattered around the trails are feeding stations which were very popular with the Bellbirds and Tuis while we were there.

Bellbird Tui

They have little “hoppers” at each feeding station for the heavier Kaka to jump on to open. There were also a number of tiny Fantails (or Piwakawaka), my favourites, flitting about.
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The sanctuary is a lovely, affordable, day out and I intend to go back and go on the longest walk, past New Zealand’s tallest tree. The visitor’s centre is made from recycled shipping containers and uses rainwater to flush the toilets, in the spirit of “eco”. There is also a giftshop fully of lovely things and a cafe where you can sit and relax while taking in the view. You may not see any birds from there though, as Mr Pigalina’s family can attest.
(Here is a bonus video of the Bellbirds an Tuis).

(Native bird spotting tip! – If you are in Dunedin and want to see some Pukeko, head to the Green Island landfill, they’re everywhere!)